Rihai Manch delegation met Bahraich SP with family members of five local Muslim men who are in jail under NSA.

Ghazanfar Abbas | Caravan Daily

NEW DELHI – While welcoming the revocation of the stringent National Security Act and subsequent release of Dalit youth leader Chandrashekhar Azad by the Uttar Pradesh government of Yogi Adityanath on Friday, the Muslim community has demanded similar relief for the dozens of poor Muslims languishing in the state jail under NSA.

Citing humanitarian ground, the BJP government of UP released Bhim Army chief Chandrashekhar Azad alias Ravan in the wee hours (2:37 am) of Friday from jail, after over ten months of his arrest under NSA for his alleged involvement in Saharanpur violence in May 2017. Azad was freed two months prior to his scheduled release on November 1, 2018. The Yogi government had imposed NSA on him even after he got bail by the Allahabad High Court.

The human rights activists and community leaders have demanded Yogi to consider similar humanitarian ground for the poor Muslims and Dalits who are in jail under NSA in connection with small communal clashes. Most of them were slapped with the NSA after they got bail from the local or high court.

“The poor Muslims and Dalits who are languishing in jail under NSA are also entitled to release in the light of the Supreme Court order. The Uttar Pradesh government has released Chandrashekhar to save itself from embarrassment. It should release all others also,” demanded Navaid Hamid, National president, All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat.

In January this year, the state government had said that 160 persons were slapped with NSA in the last nine months. It is said that a good number of them are Muslims and Dalits.

Poor Muslims, Dalits Should Also Be Released On Humanitarian Ground

Human rights activist Wasiq Nadeem Khan from United Against Hate (UAH) said the number has reached 197 and in the current BJP government in UP, NSA has been imposed majorly against Muslims.

Demanding release of Muslims languishing under NSA in various jails of UP Khan asked, “Is there no humanitarian ground for the release of those Muslims who also got bails from court but NSA was imposed by the state government?”

Activists say the reason given by the state government behind imposing NSA is farce. Explaining the legal point, Rajeev Yadav, general secretary of eminent civil rights group Rihai Manch, said that Yogi government knew that it had violated the directions of SC that if bail has been granted to the accused person, NSA can’t be imposed on him, thus it was unable to prove the charges in SC’s scheduled hearing in the Chandrashekhar case.

“UP government tried its best to continue the illegal arrest of Chandrashekhar by misusing the law. But it realized it would need to revoke NSA after SC hearing because earlier in the same case it had withdrawn NSA imposed against the accused belonging to upper caste in the same case earlier.  That is why it has come on back foot,” Rajeev said.

“Chandrashekhar’s mother has had been demanding for his release so why the government did not hear at that time. When Chandrasekhar was on wheel chair due to his deteriorating health condition months ago then why the government didn’t release him on humanitarian ground,” Rajeev questioned.

Rihai Manch delegation and victim families meet Barabanki SP seeking revocation of NSA against four Muslim laborers

Before Chandrashekhar’s release on Thursday, UP’s principal secretary Arvind Kumar said that the decision for his premature release was based on a request made through a representation by his mother.

Rajeev said that there are many cases where NSA was imposed baselessly even after the accused was granted bail by session or high court. Majority of such people are Muslims.

“Government should release them too,” Rajeev urged.

In the last few months, Rajeev had led a delegation of his Rihai Manch to several districts in UP where dozens of poor Muslims are in jail under NSA. He had met the victim families and documented their witness accounts about how their loved ones were picked and when they were to be released by court on bail, NSA was slapped on them.

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The decision to release Chandrashekhar is seemingly an attempt to appease Dalits and counter Bahujan Samaj Party in Uttar Pradesh ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. But Dalit leaders say BJP won’t succeed in its plan.

“Release of Chandrashekhar Is BJP’s Image Makeover Exercise”

Speaking to Caravan Daily, Ashok Bharti, founder of National Confederation of Dalit Adivasi Organisations (NACDOR) said that ahead of Lok Sabha elections this decision by BJP is an image makeover exercise by the party but Dalits will not be caught in its trap.

“Chandrashekhar is a Dalit icon. We have been demanding for his release since his arrest. Since the state government realized that it has become a symbol of oppression on Dalits. So, it has taken this decision under pressure of Dalit movements,” Bharti said.

“If BJP is hoping that by this trick (releasing Chandrashekhar), it will attract Dalit votes in upcoming elections, it is BJP’s illusion. Dalits will not be caught in its trap. All will be clear in the general elections,” he said.

Alleging BJP for playing “divide and rule” politics, Ashok asked, “How can we forget BJP’s PIL against SC/ST Act in the Supreme Court?”

“Now, if BJP is thinking that we will forget other Dalits who were arrested on 2nd April 2018 during Bharat Bandh and are still behind bars, it will not happen. Our fight will be continued,” he added.

Chandrashekhar had formed Bhim Army in July 2015. Hundreds of Dalit youths were attracted to his outfit that runs some 300 schools for Dalit community children. Besides him, the state government also released his two aides – Sonu and Shiv Kumar who were to be released on November 14 this year. Three other associates of Azad were released on September 7 this year.


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